We’ve had a warm spring thus far–in the 80s most days. I refuse to turn on the air conditioner as long as I can delay the inevitable. This week was cool and breezy, and tomorrow the low is 40F, kinda hard on the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant I planted last week, but what are you gonna do? I could cover them, but I’m headed to Savannah, and I wouldn’t have time to uncover. Then, they would roast in the 90s later this week. I’ll take my chances.
We’ve kept the windows open at night too. I have asthma and allergies, but with the help of Clarinex, I can enjoy the cool breezes. Even though the days are hot, the nights are mild and full of sound. Before I go to sleep, I count my lucky stars because the weather has been so accommodating. I already hear frogs and toads speaking their love talk to potential mates. Owls ask their eternal “Who, Who?” The feet of other small night creatures scrabble outside my bedroom door. It’s still too early for the locusts and cicadas, but soon they’ll also start, and it’s a cacophony of sound from dawn to dusk when they do.
The night sounds remind me of my childhood. No one I knew had air conditioning in the 1960s. We all slept peacefully with our windows open. My sister, Nita and I, had our bedroom on the top floor of the house, and our window faced south. We would open it and watch for lightning of spring storms that raced across our prairie. Later my parents got window-unit air conditioners for downstairs and finally up where we were. Although it was much more comfortable in summer, we missed the wind that ruffled our curtains and entered our dreams.
We would visit our grandparents in Missouri at least twice a year, and they had a screened-in sleeping porch. If it was hot and humid in Oklahoma, it was always stickier and hotter in Aurora. The adults put our cousins and us out on the sleeping porch where soft breezes licked its edges and kept us cooler than the adults further inside. When I visited P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm a few years ago, I was thrilled to see he had a sleeping porch upstairs with little twin beds all lined up in a row. It was much fancier than the one my grandparents had, but it still brought back wonderful memories.
These spring mornings, I wake up refreshed by bird song. Because of the gardens, we have so many birds from Cardinals and Eastern Bluebirds to Black-capped Chickadees, American Goldfinches, House Finches and a multitude of common sparrows. Crows call to each other all throughout the day. After listening to my crows for so long, I know when they are alarmed or are sounding out an “All is well.” Did you know crows are among the smartest creatures on Earth? My crows even talk about me when I come outside. They don’t see me as a threat, and I’m glad.
Every bird is trying to find his mate, and they make living out here a joy. Country sounds are so different from the city where I grew up. Spring is quite noisy, but not with traffic or emergencies. I don’t know if I could ever go back to living in town. When I travel and stay in a downtown hotel, I always have trouble sleeping for I’m no longer used to city sounds. Out here, I hardly ever hear a siren. I can only think of a couple of times in fact, unless you consider the tornado sirens a half-mile away. However, suburbs are starting to encroach on my prairie paradise. A housing addition popped up only a couple of miles south of here. Another horse ranch nearby went up for sale, so it’s only a matter of time. I don’t live that far out in the country anymore.
So, today, when my nineteen-year-old son asked why we aren’t running the air conditioner, I started to answer that I wanted to keep the breezes and beautiful sounds for as long as I could. However, before I could say anything, he said, “Because we want to be hippies?”
I said, “Yeah, hippies.” It was answer enough.